20612
Cuba
Inside Cuba: An In-Depth Island Journey: Santiago de Cuba to Havana
Go on a comprehensive exploration of Cuba as you meet its people, learn its history and discover the enduring traditions from Santiago de Cuba to Havana.
Rating (4.98)
Program No. 20612RJ
Length
15 days
Starts at
6,339
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15 days
14 nights
36 meals
14 B 11 L 11 D
Getting There
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DAY
1
Check-In, Orientation, Welcome Dinner
Miami
D
Full-Service Miami Hotel

Activity note: Please note: Most staircases in Cuba do not have railings, so if you use a walking aid, please bring it on the program. All accommodations in Cuba feature clean, comfortable rooms with private baths and standard amenities. Please note that Cuban hotel standards may not equal their American or European counterparts. Improvements are ongoing, and we hope that the potential glitch in service or amenities is a minor trade off for the authentic connections and enrichment you’ll experience.

Afternoon: The Road Scholar Group Leader will be in the hotel lobby at 4:45 p.m. to accompany the group to the orientation room. Welcome and orientation begins at 5:00 p.m. This very important meeting prepares you for our educational program and travel in and out of Cuba. We will review the up-to-date daily schedule and any changes, responsibilities, safety guidelines, emergency procedures, and discuss U.S. Department of the Treasury, Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) regulations that govern our program. Flight times to Cuba will be confirmed during Orientation. The day-by-day schedule in Cuba is a representative guide only as program elements are controlled by the Cuban Government and are subject to change on short notice.

Dinner: In the hotel’s restaurant.

DAY
2
Fly to Holguín, Cuba, Introduction to Holguín and Gibara
Gibara
B,D
Hotel E Ordono

Breakfast: A buffet breakfast or boxed breakfast will be included based on the flight time.

Morning: Departure from the hotel to the terminal (final flight times will be confirmed during orientation). The Road Scholar Group Leader will meet the group in the hotel lobby to transfer to the airport via hotel shuttle. Please be in the hotel lobby with your luggage and be ready to depart the hotel 15 minutes before the scheduled departure time. Transfer to the airport and check in to the charter flight to Holguin. Upon arrival in Holguin, meet your Cuban Study Leader who will provide local history and knowledge throughout the program. Overview of the city of Holguín, capital of the third most populous province in Cuba.

Lunch: On own in the airport.

Afternoon: Drive north to the coastal village of Gibara. When Christopher Columbus first laid eyes on the northern coast of Cuba in 1492, he called this “the most beautiful land human eyes have ever seen.” Discover the main town square on foot, and meet local residents along our way. Late afternoon, check in to the hotel.

Dinner: In the hotel’s restaurant.

Evening: After a long day of travel, rest and prepare for a full day tomorrow.

DAY
3
Typesetting Workshop, Health Care Center
Gibara
B,L,D
Hotel E Ordono

Breakfast: In the hotel restaurant.

Morning: Head into the center of Holguín city —officially San Isidore de Holguín, Cuba — to meet with workers at a unique paper and typesetting workshop that uses equipment from the early 20th century. Next, we’ll head to a graphic arts cooperative to meet the artists and learn about their inspirations and mediums.

Lunch: In a local restaurant.

Afternoon: We conclude our day of People to People Connections at a small neighborhood clinic to discuss the care provided by the nurses and how the healthcare system works in Cuba.

Dinner: In a family-owned paladar that specializes in seafood. Enjoy family style platters of chicken, fish, crab, salad and flan.

Evening: At leisure. Stroll the streets of the town and mingle with Cubans out on their evening walk.

DAY
4
Journey Through Eastern Cuba to Santiago
Santiago de Cuba
B,L,D
Melia Santiago de Cuba

Activity note: Travel by motorcoach on paved roads 110 miles, approximately 3.5 hours, rest stop en route. Walking on cobblestone pavement at El Morro; uneven steps with no railing.

Breakfast: Breakfast buffet in the hotel.

Morning: Depart Gibara and set out on our journey inland through Holguín province and on to Santiago de Cuba.

Lunch: In a local restaurant.

Afternoon: We discover the Diego Velazquez House Museum. The oldest house still standing in Cuba, this early colonial abode dating from 1522 was the official residence of the island's first governor, situated on the main square of Santiago. Drive to the Santa Ifigenia Cemetery where the remains of Jose Marti and Fidel Castro lie. Early evening check in to the hotel in Santiago. Before dinner, enjoy an expert lecture on the Culture and Religion of the Oriente (Eastern Cuba).

Dinner: Buffet dinner in the hotel restaurant.

Evening: Enjoy the resort atmosphere, a lovely setting for after-dinner conversations with your Road Scholar companions.

DAY
5
Guantanamo City, Cuban Musical Heritage
Santiago de Cuba
B,L
Melia Santiago de Cuba

Activity note: The drive to Guantanamo is 55 miles, approximately 1.5 hours, each way.

Breakfast: Breakfast buffet in the hotel.

Morning: We depart with our Cuban Study Leader on a full day field trip to the city of Guantanamo, founded by Catalan (Spanish) and French colonists who eventually intermingled with native people and slaves. The area’s deep-rooted musical and dance traditions were also influenced by Franco-Haitian immigrants. (Please note: The US base of Guantanamo is in a different location and is neither accessible nor visible.) People to People Connection: Meet a local artist and learn about his work and inspiration.

Lunch: At a local restaurant.

Afternoon: People to People Connection with La Tumba Francesca Pompadour. Meet and interact with the dancers who carry on this Franco-Haitian tradition. The dance, song and drumming style known as “Tumba Francesa” (French drum) was brought to Cuba by Haitian slaves who were resettled in the island’s eastern regions during the 1790s. It embodies one of the oldest and strongest links to Afro-Haitian heritage -- a fusion of music from Dahomey in West Africa and traditional French court dance. La Tumba Francesca is inscribed on the UNESCO’s list of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. People to People Connection with the Casa del Changüí. Meet and interact with musicians who play this style of popular Cuban music and see how each instrument is played. Changüí originated in the early 19th Century, combining elements of Spanish canción with African rhythms and percussion instruments. Return to Santiago.

Dinner: Your choice to explore local paladares or the selection of restaurants in the hotel.

DAY
6
Performing Arts Education & Fishing Community
Santiago de Cuba
B,L,D
Melia Santiago de Cuba

Activity note: The ferry crossing to Granma Island is approximately 7 minutes each way.

Breakfast: Breakfast buffet in the hotel.

Morning: Begin with a stop at San Juan Hill, to view the monuments commemorating this decisive battle of the Spanish-American War. People to People Connection: At a school for the performing arts, meet students and faculty for discussion and to learn about education and vocational training in Cuba. Take a ferry for the short crossing over to Granma Island to visit the main village.

Lunch: People to People Connection: Share lunch with local fishermen and learn about their way of life.

Afternoon: Continue the discussion with the fisherman and examine the tools available for them to practice their trade. Take some time to explore the village before returning by ferry to the mainland. Field Trip: Discover El Morro fortress with your Study Leader. The fortress, overlooking one of the oldest ports in Cuba, protected the harbor of Santiago de Cuba. For the hardy, the winding steps to the top of the fortress provide expansive views over the eastern coastline.

Dinner: At a paladar.

DAY
7
Transfer to Camaguey, Discover El Cobre Sanctuary & Bayamo
Camaguey
B,L,D
Gran Hotel

Activity note: Today is a full day of travel from Santiago de Cuba to Camaguey, about 200 miles / 8 hours with stops and visits en route. Road conditions vary and can be bumpy at times. The hotel in Camaguey is situated in a pedestrian street, about 2 blocks from the coach drop off point. Coach access in Camaguey is limited.

Breakfast: Breakfast buffet in the hotel.

Morning: Depart Santiago de Cuba to Camaguey via Bayamo. Journey into the heart of Cuba and witness some of the most beautiful scenery. The drive through the countryside is a unique and interesting experience as you observe the forms of transportation available to Cubans, including an abundance of horse drawn carriages. Stop at El Cobre Sanctuary, dedicated to the patron saint of Cuba, the Virgin of Charity. Here, pilgrims from all over Cuba come to pray and ask for favors of the country’s most cherished saint. Continue on to Bayamo, the second city founded by the Spanish in Cuba, in 1513. Experience the horse and buggy ride first hand during a short carriage ride through the city, an enlightening change of perspective from riding in a motorcoach.

Lunch: In a local restaurant

Afternoon: Continue the drive to Camaguey, arriving in the late afternoon.

Dinner: Buffet dinner in the hotel restaurant.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
8
Discovering Camaguey
Camaguey
B,D
Gran Hotel

Activity note: Climbing into a pedicab (about 1 foot up) and riding on sometimes bumpy streets.

Breakfast: Breakfast buffet in the hotel.

Morning: Camaguey is reputed to have some of the most talented dancers in Cuba, and is home to three of the country’s best dance companies. People to People Connection: Visit a dance company and observe dancers during their daily rehearsal, and learn from the company manager the challenges of operating a performance company. Speak with the staff, perhaps instructors or the seamstresses who have to be creative in their use of the few available resources to make costumes. Field Trip: One of the first seven villages founded by the Spaniards in Cuba, Camagüey played a prominent role as the urban center of an inland territory dedicated to cattle breeding and the sugar industry. The third-largest city in Cuba, the historic center is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that just celebrated its 500 year anniversary. Explore the main squares, the church and the city park by pedicab, each uniquely decorated by a local artist. Traveling by pedicab is an intimate introduction to the pulse of the city's streets and residents. People to People Connection: Meet the creator of a very unqiue public art program that has receive UNESCO awards for cultural heritage. Martha Jimenez is a world renowned sculptor and painter, she created the Plaza Carmen Sculpture project and will share with us her motivation and her community around Carmen Square.

Lunch: On your own to explore.

Afternoon: People to People Connection: We visit a unique artist studio and meet the owner and some of the resident artists, each one using a different medium. This presents the unique opportunity to discuss the role of the Artist in Cuban society and to better understand the level of freedom they are given in their pursuit of creativity. It is also an opportunity to engage with the owner who is a member of the Cuban Jewish community.

Dinner: In a privately owned paladar.

Evening: Pack an overnight bag for tomorrow night in Trinidad.

DAY
9
Travel to Trinidad, Gem of Colonial Towns
Trinidad de Cuba
B,L,D
Casa Particular (Privately Owned Accommodation)

Activity note: Plan to have an overnight bag for the one night in Trinidad. Large luggage will remain securely stored on the motorcoach. Extensive walking over very uneven cobble stone streets is unavoidable and can be strenuous in Trinidad.

Breakfast: Breakfast buffet in the hotel.

Morning: Depart Camaguey to Trinidad, about 160 miles / 4 hours with two rest stops en route.

Lunch: On arrival in Trinidad, lunch at a local paladar.

Afternoon: Field Trip On Foot: Explore the historic center of Trinidad de Cuba, one of the original Spanish Settlements and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The city is a pristine example of Spanish colonial Caribbean architecture and has just celebrated its 500 year anniversary. People to People Connection: Meet your hosts for the evening, some of the first people in Cuba to practice the new spirit of free enterprise.

Dinner: Enjoy a home-cooked meal prepared by your hosts at your casa particular.

Evening: Relax at your accommodation or take an evening stroll through the town.

DAY
10
Travel to Cienfuegos & Santa Clara
Santa Clara
B,L,D
Hotel America

Activity note: Travel by motorcoach over winding roads. Walking and standing on pavement in Cienfuegos.

Breakfast: Enjoy a leisurely breakfast prepared by your hosts.

Morning: Reconvene with the group to depart on the motorcoach to Santa Clara, via Cienfuegos. The drive to Cienfuegos is 50 miles / 1.5 hours.

Lunch: In a paladar in Cienfuegos.

Afternoon: FIELD TRIP ON FOOT: Explore the main square of Cienfuegos, also a UNESCO World Heritage Site, but a city founded by the French, who came to Cuba after the Haitian revolution. The city offers outstanding architecture and is home to a large artistic community and one of the most beautiful theaters in Cuba. People to People Connection: Meet with members of a professional choir and learn about their work, their performance travels and their daily lives. Continue on to Santa Clara, about a one-hour drive. Check into hotel.

Dinner: In a paladar.

DAY
11
Meeting the People of Santa Clara, Che Guevara Memorial
Santa Clara
B,L
Hotel America

Activity note: The Museum of Decorative Arts and the main square of Santa Clara are accessed on foot from the hotel, about a 15 minute walk to each.

Breakfast: Breakfast buffet in the hotel.

Morning: Walk to the Museum of Decorative Arts for a People to People Connection with Santa Clara’s Troubadours. Enjoy a performance then a discussion with them about classical guitar and Cuban music.

Lunch: Lunch at a nearby restaurant.

Afternoon: Field Trip: Gain insight into a central figure in the Cuban revolution as you explore the Che Guevera Memorial and Museum.

Dinner: Your choice to explore the paladares of Santa Clara.

DAY
12
Transfer to Havana, Che Guevara Memorial
Havana
B,L,D
Hotel Nacional de Cuba

Activity note: Walking and standing for up to an hour. Travel by motorcoach.

Breakfast: Breakfast buffet in the hotel.

Morning: Depart to Havana, the drive is about 3.5 hours (with stops) and covers 188 miles. Before arriving in Havana, stop at Finca La Vigia, the Hemingway Farm. This beautiful property hosts the house where the Nobel Prize-winning author lived with his third wife Mary for over 30 years. Look into the open windows and doors to see the home in perfect condition with Hemingway’s personal belongings as he left them. Walk the grounds to see his private writing studio, swimming pool, and beloved fishing boat, Pilar. The boat is featured in his novel "Islands in the Stream."

Lunch: At a restaurant in Havana.

Afternoon: Stop in Revolution Square and drive through the famed Colon Cemetery to see the spectacular crypts built prior to the revolution. Late afternoon arrival at the hotel.

Dinner: In the hotel restaurant.

DAY
13
Cuban Architecture, Discovering Old Havana
Havana
B,L
Hotel Nacional de Cuba

Activity note: Walking and standing outdoors in the sun for up to 2 - 2.5 miles over uneven, cobblestone streets in Old Havana for up to 2 hours.

Breakfast: Breakfast buffet in the hotel.

Morning: Begin with an expert presentation on the evolution of Havana’s modern architecture. Learn about the restoration work being done and discuss the challenges and the vision for Havana’s future. Drive to Old Havana. People to People Connection: Meet with members of a graphics workshop and discuss what they do. Guided exploration of Old Havana from Plaza San Francisco to Plaza de la Catedral. Each square has its own unique features.

Lunch: Lunch in a paladar in Old Havana.

Afternoon: People to People Connection: Watch a performance by one of Havana's most talented dance companies.Then have an open discussion.

Dinner: On your own to discover one of the many paladares that have opened in Havana (suggestions will be provided).

DAY
14
Cuba & US Relations, Fine Arts Museum
Havana
B,L,D
Hotel Nacional de Cuba

Activity note: Walking and standing at the Fine Arts Museum. The museum does not have an elevator and there are few places to sit.

Breakfast: Breakfast buffet in the hotel.

Morning: An expert presentation: US - Cuba Relations: A Cuban Perspective, will provide new insights as to many of the historical conundrums between the two countries. Field Trip: Explore the Fine Arts Museum of Havana. Cuban art is renowned world-wide. Delve into the stories that each work of art relates and the statement on politics, culture and society that each artist conveys.

Lunch: At a paladar.

Afternoon: Free afternoon for exploration.

Dinner: Farewell Dinner.

DAY
15
Return to US, Program Concludes
Depart for Miami
B

Activity note: The walk from the arrival gate in Miami International airport to the U.S. Immigration and Customs area is 10-15 minutes. Assistance can be requested at check-in.

Breakfast: Breakfast buffet in the hotel.

Morning: Check out of the hotel. Group transfer to the airport in Havana for your return flight to the US. Please Note: Flight times are subject to change and will be confirmed in your final information packet which is normally sent approximately 4-5 weeks prior to departure. Please do not schedule connecting flights within 3-4 hours of arrival in Miami due to possible delays and airport security.